From Romeo to ‘a bro­ken man’

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NEWS - By Michael Or­dona

Richard Mad­den only looks 19; he’s ac­tu­ally 32. Still, it’s a lit­tle sur­pris­ing to hear him de­scribe the dis­tance be­tween his run as Win­ter­fell scion Robb Stark on “Game of Thrones” to David Budd on “Body­guard” as “mov­ing on from be­ing a son to be­ing a fa­ther.”

“I’ve played Romeo twice on­stage,” the hand­some Scot says in a lilt­ing brogue, “but I’ve kind of played in­car­na­tions of Romeo for the past 10 years in all my parts. So to move on to some­one I re­ally don’t see as a Romeo char­ac­ter, I’ve loved do­ing that.”

Sunny, smil­ing and lighter-haired than “GoT” fans will re­mem­ber him, he al­lows that it’s still a bit of a whirl­wind — “Body­guard’s” rat­ing suc­cess (set­ting view­ing records in the U.K.) and hon­ors (Golden Globe and Crit­ics’ Choice nom­i­na­tions for him). His ex-sol­dier/ now po­lice­man as­signed to pro­tect the U.K. home sec­re­tary is in­deed a young fa­ther, though that might not be the first qual­ity that comes to view­ers’ minds. Budd is a PTSD suf­ferer who ex­pe­ri­ences trig­gered rages and near-panic at­tacks. In mo­ments of ac­tion, he’s at his best.

“If he’s sav­ing some­one else, it keeps him in­tact,” says Mad­den. “He can fix that. For a man who’s been through such trauma in his life to go straight back into a job like that, it’s re­peat­ing cy­cles.

“But that’s his purpose in life. When he stops do­ing that, he feels com­pletely re­dun­dant. And all these other things he’s been push­ing back start creep­ing up on him.”

That’s where the fa­therand-hus­band thing comes into play. Budd is, in his pro­fes­sional guise, stoic, ef­fi­cient. But un­der­neath are roil­ing waves that lead to some un­pro­fes­sional be­hav­ior and out­bursts that make it un­der­stand­able why his wife wanted out of their mar­riage.

“That’s an­other thing about this, to not be scared of be­ing dis­liked. Par­tic­u­larly in the scenes with my wife. Those scenes on the phone, there’s a cer­tain — ” he takes on an ag­gres­sive harsh­ness, “tone that I speak to her in that is hor­ri­ble. It’s a way of speak­ing to some­one that peo­ple will very much dis­like. And I dive straight in be­cause I thought it was im­por­tant to un­der­stand. But then, when we see them alone, how much she means to him is con­veyed, and that all ties into his PTSD.”

Budd and the show prob­a­bly con­found Amer­i­can au­di­ences. He barely fights; many char­ac­ters live in a gray zone be­tween good and bad. It ex­presses some un­usual points of view for a thriller. And Budd’s ul­ti­mate tri­umph may be that he stops deny­ing he needs help.

“I read a statis­tic that 13 years is the av­er­age time it takes from some­one hav­ing a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence to seek­ing help for PTSD,” Mad­den says.

“That’s a huge amount of time. And it fes­ters and grows, and it can dom­i­nate your life and you don’t even know it.”

Mad­den al­ready has 25 screen cred­its but al­lows that “Body­guard” put him through his paces like no other project so far.

PA­TRICK T. FAL­LON/FOR THE LOS AN­GE­LES TIMES

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